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June 21, 2005



Call me a mackerel snapper and I'll punch ye in yer nose. ;)


Working here in the South, when asked about my religious affiliation, I sometimes reply that I am a "Papist Idolator". It usually produces a look of consternation or pained amusement. I have occasionally thought that, perhaps, I should just say that I belong to one of the two unreformed churches.


Papist? "Way behind the curve"? I'll say. But then the Corner truly is a sanctuary for "know nothings".

Victor Morton

See, I use the word "Papist" along with "Popery," "Romanism" and "mackerel-snapper" all the time. I just think they're funny. And when living in Texas and Georgia, like Ed, I would sometimes use terms like "statue-worshipper" and "Church of Mary" to Proddy-dogs who asked me what church I went to. And it got the exact look he describes -- a mixture of pained amusement.


You MIND? You DO? Why on earth? The badge of distinction of the Roman Catholic Church is that we recognize that the Petrine Authority lives and continues in the line of the Bishops of Rome.

We are Papists, Papists, Papists; we are, indeed. "Christian" also originated as a term of abuse. So what? We are Christians, too! And we acknowledge the jurisdicition of the Pope, we are his flock. We are Papists, doggone it!


I had a 60-something Episcopalian "Starbucks" buddy I would chat with on occasion, he'd chuckle and call me a Papist. The only argument we ever got into is when I tried to explain that Christ really meant it when he said it was wrong to lust after and ogle pretty woman as they passed by, which by the way, was this older gentlemans main pursuit at Starbucks.

But no, I never took 'papist' as a bigoted comment.

Susan Peterson

I thought this prior term of opprobrium had been adopted by consciously orthodox and faithful RC's and taken for our own. There is a website called "Pertinaceous Papist" for instance.

There are few left who could without irony use this term as an insult or derogatory term; a few fundamentalist/evangelical types still believe the Pope is the anti-Christ, but they tend to call us just Catholics or Roman Catholics.

Papist is a term which has outlived its history; its origins are in the late 16th century, it lived throught the 16th, the 17th, and the 18th century, and still had emotional force in the 19th...but I think by the 20th few could use it unselfconsciously any more. By now I think it is mostly a joke as an insult and has its best use as an affirmation.

Go ahead, call me a Papist.
Susan Peterson


I consider myself a papist and am proud of it, even though I romanticize old England and was born there.


Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I mind being called a papist when it's John Derbyshire doing the talking.

Hunk Hondo

Although much depends on location, context and the speaker's intent, frankly I have a hard time getting worked up about it. There's enough real malice against the Church out there without sweating stuff like this.
Just a thought--if I take up brewing (as I sometimes idly think of doing), could I call my product Papist Blue Ribbon?


Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I mind being called a papist when it's John Derbyshire doing the talking.

Yes, Amy, that's how I feel about the colleague of mine (Episcopalian) who calls me a "ROMAN Catholic," bearing down so hard on the first word, he's only a half-step from the folks who call us "Romanists."

Ed the Roman

Derb is somewhat Orange in his religio-cultural origins, so he would call himself a Prod. He's sure that there's a God, and pretty sure one ought to be a Christian, and not entirely convinced that it will really do that much good.

He also still uses the word 'buggery'.

He means little enough offense in referring to Papists that I will take no notice of it. I'm fond of him.

Kevin Jones

Just as it is sometimes "ghetto chic" among American blacks to use the N-Word, I've used various old-time insults in a silly spirit. When a local paper started a group blog, I took particular delight in commenting to one of those angry anti-Catholic lib-dem journalists that she was impotent before the awesome power of the Popish Menace. Maybe I'm just too young to remember such insults being used seriously and having an actual sting.

Ed the Roman

And since my father's people are part Irish Catholic, part Quebecois, I hold as much paper on the Sassenagh as almost anybody here.


Christopher Rake

It depends entirely on the context. The context includes the focus of the discussion, the character of the person who uses it and the level of trust held by the potential offended....papist.

Maclin Horton

It's a smile-when-you-say-that sort of thing. And an ok-in-the-family sort of thing, similar to black people freely using the n-word to each other. Or for that matter me referring to my fellow Southerners as crackers, rednecks, etc.

I agree that it no longer has the teeth that it used to, but still, I echo the two comments by Amy & Naomi above. There is a subtle venom that some Protestants of the Anglican traditions bring to bear with these terms.

Not that it's something I'd get seriously bent out of shape over in any case, but still, it can rankle. And I agree with Amy: Derbyshire rankles.

Kevin Jones

Also, didn't an Episcopalian Supreme Court Justice recently refer to Catholics as "Romans"? I thought it was reported at GetReligion, but I can't find it.

Adolfo Rodriguez

Sorry for the aside, but what's wrong with using the word "buggery"?

Mike Petrik

I agree with Victor, Ed, Susan, Ian, Hunk and Jeff. I view it as an amusing term of endearment, and use it (and others pointed out by Victor) all the time. But context means everything. Given "Darbesheer's" chronic potshots directed toward the Church and Her teachings, it is fair I suppose to be a bit skeptical, but I'm inclined to assume the best and roll on. Darb is a bit full of himself, and his criticisms of Catholicism can be unjustifiably arrogant, but I seriously doubt he is the least bit anti-Catholic in the sense of bigotry. People are sometimes just too sensitive about nonsense, as Darb's "Jewess" example illustrates.


Ed the Roman: "Sasanagh amach anois!!"

James Kabala

I personally don't feel offended when the term is used jocularly, but is Derbyshire for real in claiming to be unaware that the term is considered offensive? I've been aware that the word was regarded as an offensive insult since I was aware that the word existed, and every dictionary would back me up.

James Kabala

Maybe things are different in England, but from where I sit, on both "papist" and "Jewess" Derb seems to have his head deliberately in the sand.


What is the origin of "mackerel snapper"?


I think ``mackerel snapper'' comes from the fish-on-Friday custom that American Catholics used to observe. My father, now 86, heard it when he was growing up in the Bronx.


The N-word referred to several times above in connection with the African American community has also been applied by Ulster Protestants to their Catholic neighbors.


Even today, in Welsh, Pabydd is a "normal" term for Catholics, and Catholicism is Pabyddiaeth. The link below to the BBC website will show the English translations of a highlighted word when you float your cursor over it. Note that Pabyddiaeth is glossed as "Catholicism, Romanism"!

A lot of high-Anglican English stress the "Roman" bit not only to be snotty but because they feel they also are "Catholic" in some sense. My boss and I have had a lot of discussions about religion over the past few years, but a few weeks ago, when I started punching the air and jumping up and down, shouting "Ratzinger, Ratzinger!", she gave me a completely shocked look and said, "I didn't know you were a Roman Catholic!"


Forgot the URL:


Badly Drawn Catholic

I'm with Amy on this one. It is one thing to use Papist as a self-referent. I usually say it about myself in away to skewer wrong-headed thinking by the Derbyshires of the world. From the mouth of someone who is not Catholic it's symbolic meaning is solely insulting. The term Papist from a non-Catholic is akin to someone flying the Confederate Flag and stating it is symbolic of states rights when the true intent is deeply darker.

I never bought into the ignorance defense -- not for someone as supposedly well as read as Derbyshire.

Gerry O' Neil

Given Derbyshire's origins, I think we can safely assume he is being disingenuous. The term, 'papist', carries a lot of negative baggage in Britain.


Well, I intend to use the term Papist about myself and other Catholics, whether it offends them or not. I don't expect non-Catholics to believe in Catholicism and why should it be de rigeur for them to use a word that means "Universalism" when they don't believe that it's the universal Church?

Quakers was a term of abuse and the Quakers just said, Okay, we're Quakers if you like. I'm sick and tired of everyone having to go around on stocking feet tiptoeing around trying to avoid hurting the sensitive. I avoid Jewess and Chinaman, but just because the pressure makes it more trouble than it's worth to use them, but I resent the pressure.

I'd like to be able to say, Mohammedan, which I think is more accurate than "Muslim." Why should we have to revise OUR word for their religion and use their own term, which implies that they are submitting to God's truth, which I don't believe?

So let's start with our own house. We are Papists, we are Romanists. We ARE. If Derbyshire (MARVELLOUS writer!) uses the term and isn't obviously trying to be grossly insulting, he's welcome as far as I'm concerned. And the Mohammedans can call us Nasrawi (followers of the Nazarene) too, for all I care. I AM a Nasrawi!

Gerry O' Neil

Let's not forget that 'The Act of Settlement' (1701) remains on the British statute books. The act specifically prohibits Catholics, or those who marry Catholics, from remaining in the line of succession to the throne.

We also have to endure such distasteful phenomena such as, Orange Walks, the Burka Broadcasting Corporation and Channel 4 News - not to mention the burning of effigies of the pope on 'Bonfire Night' in certain English towns.


Badly Drawn Catholic says:

"The term Papist from a non-Catholic is akin to someone flying the Confederate Flag and stating it is symbolic of states rights when the true intent is deeply darker."

I know LOTS of Southerners who love their history and are proud of their Confederate heritage. They have no such "dark" intent when they display Confederate symbols.

Why can't we just be a bit more good-natured about all these things and let people call us what they want? Is Derbyshire trying to be insulting? I don't think he hates Catholics, although Mr. O'Brien is right, he probably has a bit of that irritability about Catholicism common among the English that strikes me as so odd.

A lot of American Southerners have it, too. I call it the
-Mah-Taters" syndrome. It makes me a bit sad, but I take it in good part. Why shouldn't non-Catholics take a bit of umbrage at our claims of supremacy? We need to convince them that they are wrong, not insist that they give us false "respect."

Gerry O' Neil

Tony Blair has come under some pressure to repeal the Act of Settlement as it is perceived by many to be an embarrassment to right-on, 'multicultural', "Cool Britannia".

However, our fearless Prime Minister has declined the invitation to remove this prejudiced legislation from British law on the grounds that to do so would be 'too complicated'.


The "Derb", a self absorbed dilettante, has generally repulsive libertarian sensibilities. By the law of large numbers, a few of his observations occasionally make sense. (Give a monkey enough paint and it will produce the Mona Lisa.) But on the whole, why would anyone with genuine spiritual inclinations give warrant to anything he has to say?

Badly Drawn Catholic

Jeff wrote:

"I know LOTS of Southerners who love their history and are proud of their Confederate heritage."

I guess Southerners are free to be proud of their history of slavery and segregation. Thanks for validating my point about the Confederate flag.

David Kubiak

Anybody, in this country at least, who knows the term 'Papist' is unlikely to be using it in a derrogatory sense.

What I like to think of as my only nod to political correctness (as opposed to good manners and common sense) is that I never say 'Jew' or 'Jews', whereas Jewish people use the terms all the time about themselves.


I think it's derogatory, but not to the extent that "The N Word" would be. More like calling someone, "colored", which I assume Jeff would find okay. I however, do not.

The fact that some people find it offensive and some people do not and some find it anywhere in between is reason enough not to use it at all in general use.

Mike Petrik

Your simplistic remarks regarding the Confederate battle flag betray a cartoonish understanding of the South and its history (not to mention the North and its history and continuing practice of segregation). Your arrogance is unwarranted. And your presumptuousness about the intent of Southerners who have pride in their heritage is remarkably foolish.

Isn't it just a bit bizarre that David feels that he can't say the word "Jew"? I suspect he is not remotely alone. It seems we have become awfully brittle.

Julianne Wiley

Badly Drawn Catholic wrote: "I guess Southerners are free to be proud of their history of slavery and segregation. Thanks for validating my point about the Confederate flag."

Oh, come on. You know that isn't what he meant.

I know dozens of people who fly the CSA flag here in East Tennessee, and none, absolutely none of them, have a good word to say for slavery or segregation. Most of them are drawing attention to their pork barbecue, possum hunting, or clog dancing proclivities.

Some of these Stars-and-Bars-flyers are even African-Americans who are members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Well, you're welcome. Always glad to supply a few clues.

Mike Petrik, tax  lawyer

I think you are taking unfair inferential liberrties with Jeff's posts.
For the record, I'm pleased to be a Papist and a Roman. Some of you hyper-sensitive souls would not last one day on Chicago's southwest side where humorous ethnic banter is often a sign of mutual affection.


The emphasis many Protestants make on "Roman" is more offensive to me than "papist": one reason is they want to maintain they're "catholic" too, though they use the word in the reductionist sense of "universal" (a mistake many, many Catholics make), rather than its fuller and more literal meaning: "pertaining to the whole." This matters because the "Catholic means universal" allows for a lowest-common denominator approach, whereas "Catholic means wholeness" emphasizes that true Catholics embrace the whole-deal.

The other reason I don't like the emphasis on "Roman" is that, after all, one needn't be Roman to be Catholic; I happen to be Roman; but being CATHOLIC pertains to my salvation.

Sandra Miesel

"Oh there was a Romish lady,
Brought up in Popery. . ."

Nasty old ballad being quoted there. I sometimes identify myself as "Romish" and (borrowing Knox's ringing phrase) have spoken of "committing Papistical abominations" but only in an ironic spirit of fun. And some of us also speak of "Protties," yea, even on this blog.
An Episopalian of my acquaintance used to argue the "branch" theory of the Church, whereby he was a "Holy Catholic" unlike my "Roman Catholic" self.


Derb is being his usual precious self, and fools only the credulous. If anyone sincerely believes his protestations of innocent ignorance on this one (and Jewess), I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

Rod Dreher

Papist? "Way behind the curve"? I'll say. But then the Corner truly is a sanctuary for "know nothings".

Oh please. I used to work there. The place is infested with papists. Derbyshire is the odd man out. Rich Lowry's an Evangelical of some sort, I think, and Jay Nordlinger's a Christian Scientist, but pretty much everybody else there's a Catholic, and the place is filled with a Catholic sensibility.

For the record, I don't mind "papist," because I use it myself as an ironic badge of honor. I don't think most people I run into here have the faintest idea what it means.


I copied the following song from a website all about Guy Fawkes festivities in the British Isles. The night before kids go around with effigies of Guy Fawkes called "guys" and beg money. Sometimes they also have effigies of the Pope. This is the song they sing:

Gentlefolks, pray Remember this day;

‘Tis with kind notice we bring The figure of sly And villanous Guy,

Who wanted to murder the king. By powder and store, He bitterly swore,

As he skulk‘d in the walls to repair,

The parliament, too, By him and his crew,

Should all be blowed up in the air.

But James, very wise,

Did the Papists surprise,

As they plotted the cruelty great;

He know‘d their intent, So Suffolk he sent To save both kingdom and state,

Guy Fawkes he was found

With a lantern underground,

And soon was the traitor bound fast:

And they swore he should die,

So they hung him up high,

And burnt him to ashes at last.

So we, once a-year, Come round without fear,

To keep up remembrance of this day;

While assistance from you

May bring a review Of Guy Fawkes a-blazing away.

So hollo, boys! hollo, boys!

Shout and huzza;

So hollo, boys! hollo, boys!

Keep up this day!

So hollo, boys! hollo, boys!

And make the bells ring!

Down with the Pope, and God save the Queen!

The next day and evening they burn the effigies and whoop it up at their bonfires. "No Popery" is written in chalk all over the town and chanted as the fires blaze. There are organizations that put this thing together every year that function much like the Krewes in New Orleons getting ready for Mardi Gras. The website even has traditioinal recipes.

Google "Bonfire Night", "Gunpowder Plot" and "Guy Fawkes" and see what you come up with.

Derbyshire knows full well that his homeland is still having lots of fun EVERY YEAR marching and yelling about popery.

Did you know that it was celebrated in this country for a long time. I don't know if anybody still does it, but the English websites refer to Americans as still doing it.

Greg Popcak

I don't mind Papist. In college, we would occasionally sing, "I'm a papist, he's a papist, she's a papist, we're all papist, wouldn't you like to be a papist too?"

As for identifying ourselves to anti-Catholic southerners, I was once at the National Religious Broadcaster's convention in Nashville when a man from Bob Jones University asked me, "where do you fellowship?" (i.e. what's your denomination?)

I responded, "I belong to the First Apostolic Full Gospel Church of Jesus Christ Unreformed--Roman Assembly."

Then I pointed to the "Ave Maria Radio" sign above my booth.

Greg Popcak

As for Derb, I've always thought him to be less "Prod" and more "Prig."

But that's not offensive is it?



Derb is really more of a Pagan Warrior in ethos than anything else, in the great tradition of the nominally Anglican establishment.

Badly Drawn Catholic

Mike P. wrote:

"And your presumptuousness about the intent of Southerners who have pride in their heritage is remarkably foolish."

I would love to be proven wrong but I have too much first hand experience that says otherwise. My family reunions are full of Confederate flag waving racists. The ironic thing is not one of them has ever had a mailing address south of the Mason-Dixon line but half of them were raised in Dan Emmett's hometown and went to Dan Emmett Elementary and none of them could tell you for what he is famous. I refuse to let my daughters go to my brother's house because of his freely spoken racist views and his proud display of the Confederate flag in his living room (taste is not a family trait) and his nostalgia for the days in which he never lived.

Where I live, the Confederate flag usually is a badge of a proud racist.

James Kabala

FWIW, East Tennesseee was actually pro-Union during the Civil War, and as a result, was a Republican island in the Democratic "Soild South" sea for a century afterwards. Now that the rest of the South is also Republican, East Tennessee is on the same political page as the rest of the South for the first time since the ante bellum period.
The same is true of the famous Winston County, Alabama, which seceded from Alabama during the war and declared itself the Free State of Winston. Unlike the creation of West Virginia, this action did not outlast the war.

George E. Lee

I've never been called a Papist but I don't think I'd like it, unless the context was good natured joshing.

I was in grad school the first time someone asked me, "Are you RC?" Bewildered, I wondered how they could mistake me for a cola. RCs are something you have with a Moonpie here in Virginia where I grew up.

Mike Petrick---You'll get a kick out of this story. I was poking around the Cold Harbor Battlefield Visitor's Museum some years ago and I noticed that an item in a display case was improperly marked. " You've got that mouth organ mismarked as a Juice Harp, " I told the Ranger. " It was called a Jew's Harp."

"Oh yes, I know" came the reply, "but we are not allowed to call it a Jew's Harp for fear of giving offense, so we made up the name 'Juice Harp."

Had anyone ever complained, I asked, about the term "Jew's Harp?" " No, never" he said.

I often thought about writing to the National Park Service about it but never have. I doubt it would do any good. It would be kind of funny if a bunch of Jews complained that they were offended by the term " Juice Harp" and demanded that the proper old term be used.


Stop the presses!

Derb takes the opportunity to display his anti-Irish bigotry:

"Just for once, I'm getting a fair reader consensus, something like: The word "Papist" is so bizarrely archaic, I am welcome to it. Apparently no-one has been offended by it for around 300 years. Outside Belfast, that is."

Plato's Stepchild


Plato's Stepchild

One of life's small pleasures is tweaking the sensibilities of John Derbyshire.

James Kabala

The ones sold for kids are Old Sturbridge Village have been re-named "Jaw Harps" by the manufacturer.


FYI Website about Pope Day in early America.
Read the whole page and you won't want to hear "papist" or "popery" any more.


God bless him. George Washington didn't like it and he was supportive of Jews as well as Catholics.

George E. Lee

Badly Drawn Catholic--I started to reply patiently to you but I suppose it would be like writing to the National Park Service about Juice Harps. I declare, though, non-Southerners are a mysterious lot. Because a bunch of racists who have never been to the South cotton to the Confederate battle flag, it follows to you that anyone in the South who appreciates it is a racist.

I'm somewhat reminded of the old syllogism, "All men are mortal, Socrates is a man, therefore, all men are Socrates."

JUlianne Wiley

And on another note:

Oh, I wish I were a Catholic Charismatic--
That is all I'd really like to be -ee - ee
'Cause if I were a Catholic Charismatic,
Eveyone would lay their hands on me!


Joseph D'Hippolito

You know, I would have more sympathy for Catholic bloggers who protest the term "papist" and other such derogatory terms if those same bloggers didn't use such derogatory terms as "Proddy-dog," or refuse to capitalize the "p" in Protestant (a trend that's as endemic as young women baring their midriffs during the summer).

Regarding the latter, standard English grammar and punctuation apparently do not apply when you're dumping on those you don't like.

Eileen R

I agree with Amy.

If it was a born-and-bred American who doesn't have a history of making sneering remarks about the Irish and Catholics, it might sound a bit different. But in Derb's mouth, it has a *context*.

And frankly, I'd wonder if there is a bit of a subtle difference in the way those of us with a little experience with the British view things like this. I love Britain. A Lot. But there is a disdain for Catholics in that country which, while mostly harmless now, still exists. You get the vibe off people like Derbyshire. They don't really mean harm, but they still have a bit of bigotry in the way they think.

The English disdain for Catholics is generally different from Evangelical distrust of us, though they share some historical roots. The English feeling manifests itself today generally not so much a dislike of Catholics as an automatic dismissive and patronizing attitude towards them.

And in light of the fact that many of the Catholics that get this attitude are Irish, you might start seeing why this still rankles.

Fr. Shawn O'Neal

Eileen R:

Yup, we have neither anything on the level of Guy Fawkes Day here in the States nor have we any odd semi-religious tiffs as people can still find with the Celtic vs. Rangers football/soccer rivalry in Glasgow.

Instead, some of us continue to fight the Civil War/War Between the States/War of Northern Aggression/Late Unpleasantness. Borrrrrrrrrring. That long-standing discussion has been borrrrrring since April 9, 1865. For the love of Pete, shut yer frickin' yaps about the doggone Civil War. The war ended long ago, ladies and gentlemen.

Donna V.

As Rod Dreher wrote, NRO is certainly not "Know-Nothing" territory. Most of the writers are Catholic. The founder of National Review, William Buckley, is a practicing Catholic (which came as a surprise to me - with that accent, I thought he surely had to be a High Church Episcopalian.;-)

I thought Derb's tone was a bit snotty, but, in a world in which statues of the Virgin Mary covered in elephant dung and crucifixes in urine are displayed as "art" and "The DaVinci Code" is taken seriously by millions of people, the use of the term "Papist" on a conservative blog seems like pretty small bananas.

Donna V.

And Joseph D'Hippolito is right: complaining about an un-PC reference to Catholics in one breath and using the term "Proddy dogs" in the next hardly makes your case.

Not only do I have no desire to refight the Civil War, I don't particularly want a reenactment of the Battle of the Boyne either.

Maclin Horton

Yeah, a vibe. Eileen R nails it as usual.

Regarding the Confederate flag, I'm going to pull rank as a 55-year resident of Alabama and solemnly declare, define, and pronounce that its display may be as harmless as some of you say and as racist as others say.

It's a fact that the flag was adopted by segregationists as a symbol of resistance to the civil rights movement, and thus its taint is not wholly imaginary. But it's also a fact that it can be an entirely unmalicious expression of the rather intense regional and historical loyalty that so many of us (Southerners) have.


I'm with the folks who would say that it depends on who called me a papist and in what context. Among friends, teasingly, I would not be bothered. I teasingly call my husband a Polock and he calls me a Kraut or Frog (Alsace-Lorraine origins) from time to time.

I'd find "papist" an accusation or insult if from a hardcore fundamentalist Christian (ie, Jack Chick follower). It seems to make sense that some one like Derb--British Anglican--might have similar insult in his mind. But, heck, I don't read minds.

Oh, and speaking of use of the N-word, when we were in Russia, our facilitator had quite a disgust w/the Muslims from the Caucasus (spelling?) states, calling them the N-word in English to us. I think that the US is probably the least racist/prejudiced society among almost any country. We get slammed for admitting our faults and trying to correct ourselves, while others continue on with impunity.

RP Burke

A few random thoughts.

1. A little more background on George Washington. He was appalled at the Guy Fawkes Day celebration he saw outside Boston when he came north to take charge of the Continental Army during the siege of Boston (April 1775 to March 1776). But the reason wasn't quite so honorable: He wanted to create an alliance with French Canadians, and the anti-Catholicism of the parades of the "Pope" and the "Pretender" was an obstacle to bringing on the Quebecoisie (sp?) as allies. (Colonial troops would occupy Montreal a bit later in the Revolutionary War.)

2. Remember what a lot of English anti-Catholicism was about: loyalty to the Crown. The martyrs of the British Isles died not as heretics, burned at the stake, but as traitors, hanged and butchered.

3. My answer to those who would dare try to convert me -- let's say, if I were a new student at the Air Force Academy -- is to tell them I'm an adherent of the Harlot of Rome. But they'd get some trouble if they started talking like that!

Fr. Shawn O'Neal

RP Burke: Would you get that type of lip at the AFA about being RC? I can picture that at The Citadel.

I'm hoping the service academies would be above that jive.



I was dishearted to see Derb say that, but then, he also discussed his unfortunate use of "Jewess" too. I don't suppose "Negress" is uncomfortable for him either.

If we are "Papists" then we are subscribers to "Papism," no? I've had a gripe about "Catholicism" in the same way for years. We are Christians. The Church is Catholic. Those who are not in the Church are not true believers [although the converse - that all in the Church are true believers - is erroneous]. Why should we who subscribe to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith take the title "Catholic" instead of "Christian?" Why do we let apostates and heretics take that title and then deny it to us?


Just some miscellaneous observations ...

My older British/Irish relatives would sometimes use the term "Jewess", but I never detected any animosity in its use; it seemed purely descriptive, and to me ( an American ), it seemed quaintly archaic. My very English wife does not use that term, however, she frequently will use a term unknown here, "manageress", to describe a manager of a store, restaurant, etc., who just happens to be female. Again, use of such a term seems archaic to us, but it's in everyday use in Britain.

Another commenter mentioned that Guy Fawkes Day used to observed in the American colonies and early U.S. George Washington spoke out against it because a fair number of Revolutionary War veterans ( abt. 20% ? ) were Catholic. After that, I believe it pretty much died out in the U.S.

Anyone interested in Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder plot may also want to read up on the Gordon Riots in London of the 1780's. It was instigated by a Scottish nobleman, Lord (?) Gordon, as a display of popular discontent against any efforts to relieve Catholics of Ireland and England from their political and social disabilities. By the time it was done, 200+ people were dead. It had started as a peaceful but boisterous protest against "popery", but soon degenerated into general lawlessness and mob rule.

Fr. Shawn O'Neal

Pardon me for not including earlier my comment about Derb:

His use of that term was not necessary. He could have used another term that would not start a flash-fire.

"Jewess"? No way! In these times? Just use "negress" while you're at it.

RP Burke

Fr. Shawn, hard-core Evangelical Protestant proselytizing at the AFA is all over the news these last few weeks. A Lutheran chaplain complained and was promptly shipped to Okinawa. Apparently it's been going on with the at least tacit approval of the commandant. A very bad scene, especially since it's supported by our tax dollars. Now the I-have-to-save-you-ers are claiming to be the ones who are attacked. Unbelievable.

Victor Morton

Joe, Donna:

The only person who has used the term "Proddy-dogs" in this thread at least is me (and I'd be surprised if there are more than a couple of other St. Blogs regulars who have ever used that term since it is very specifically British slang).

And I was practically the first person to say I'm not offended by "papist."

Hell, I'm not offended by the Act of Settlement. I participated in Guy Fawkes nights as a boy ("splosions are cool"). And, when they're playing in Europe, I'll boot for Rangers.

But the Proddy-dogs are still a bunchie orange bahstirts.


If you want to be offended or sickened by things said by John Derbyshire, read his comments today (or any day) on the Terri Schiavo situation. He finds her parents to be obnoxious people and is quite willing to believe that M Schiavo may really have made such a solemn promise to her. Surprisingly, he does concede that M Schiavo could have been a bit more charitable to her parents--in spite of their obnoxiousness. Ramesh has a good pithy rejoinder.

Rich Leonardi

I'm willing to cut the 'Derb some slack. He strikes me as an equal opportunity offender, and, given the circumstances - a private exchange between him and a reader - we should bear in mind Christ's words from yesterday's lectionary: "For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get."

There are a whole 'lotta things I've posted on St. Blog's (much less a private exchange) that I hope inspire Christ's mercy rather than justice.

kathleen reilly

"And in light of the fact that many of the Catholics that get this attitude are Irish, you might start seeing why this still rankles."

Eileen R, in Britain, the ONLY Catholics that get this attitude are the Irish. British catholics tend to be quite posh. no one's looking down their nose at the Brompton Oratory. (limiting the pool here to people originating from the "British" Isles, i.e. no Poles, etc.)

Donna V.

Peggy: Yes, I read Derb's nasty comments about Terri's parents and found them far more offensive than the use of the word "Papist."

But what can you expect? Derb was almost alone in championing Michael S.'s cause over there at NRO. (I was rather bitterly amused by the fact that Derb was in bed - figuratively, of course - with Andrew "The Church Must Change For Me" Sullivan on that one.)

He's not going to admit now that Schiavo is a first class jerk (to put it mildly).

Fr. Shawn O'Neal

RP Burke:

Thanks for the info. I missed that story.


An Episcopal lady of my acquaintance refers to me as a Papist and to a Catholic convert from her parish as someone who "poped." I don't believe she thinks it is any worse than being a Methodist. :-)

I was offended for about five seconds and then noted that she is a senior citizen. I am sure she meant no harm. She did say that where she is from in Texas, most Catholics spoke Spanish.


I think that the US is probably the least racist/prejudiced society among almost any country.

Oh, I BEG to differ. We just like to pretend it doesn't exist, since we don't have lynchings, or dogs or firehoses being unleashed on the black folk. Our racism has gone underground.

Donna V.

BTW, I've heard Derbyshire on the radio (and I found him rather entertaining - that was before Terri S.), and since I've spent some time in the British Isles, I could tell his accent was not "posh." I get the feeling some posters have the image of a snide upper-crust Anglican peering down his nose at the declasse RC's. That's not him - he can just sound that way in print;-)

He has said he does not have any strong religious feelings and really has a distaste for those who are too "enthusiastic" about their faith.

Victor Morton

kathleen wrote:

In Britain, the ONLY Catholics that get this attitude [the English disdain for Catholics] are the Irish. British catholics tend to be quite posh.

Um, that last point is true of BRIDESHEAD REVISITED.

For the rest of the note ... huh?


Hey folks:

Derbyshire is offensive to me, not only because of his Michael Schiavo love, which is just bizarre - even if you support his side, the things Derbyshire has said about him are over the top (and probably purposefully incendiary), but also because of his reaction to the Michael Jackson verdict which, again, even if you cede the legal case, was odd - said he found Jackson charming or something. Eew.I could blog all day about any of that stuff, and it is important.

But I posted this because...he ended his post with a question of sorts ("Let me know, please") ..and I thought we should answer it!!!

Donna V.

mayangirl: Which country would you hold up to as being less racist or prejudiced? Tony Blair said after 9/11 that he strongly doubted that a black man in Europe could rise as far as Colin Powell. And non-Western societies, are not much better. Japan has a great deal of racism. Not to mention the Middle East and Africa.

No society is without racism. We have come much further, in a relatively short period of time, than most. Racism is not a Western invention - it is a sin that most of humanity has engaged in at one time or another.



I did not say racism was non-existent in the US, but certainly less prevalant, not to mention, less violent, than in, I daresay, any other country. Only now, the Europeans are dealing with immigration by their former colonists who are of various shades of brown skin. Heck, Derb himself expresses his own feelings about this issue in Britain at times. I also gave a Russian example above. We don't have tribal or religious wars (or actually slaughters) waging as is happening in some countries in Africa.

Rich Leonardi

If you want to be offended or sickened by things said by John Derbyshire, read his comments today (or any day) on the Terri Schiavo situation.

Egad! I haven't. My recollection of him is based on the stuff he wrote in the aftermath of the September 11 atrocities, most of which was reasonable.

Dorian Speed

For what it's worth, a reader first made the comment to Derbyshire that he shouldn't be too free with the term in Belfast. So he didn't just toss that in there out of thin air.

His comments on the Schiavo situation are chilling.


The UK is thinking about outlawing religious jokes. Here's some that the Independent wanted to get in under the wire


Eileen R

BTW, I've heard Derbyshire on the radio (and I found him rather entertaining - that was before Terri S.), and since I've spent some time in the British Isles, I could tell his accent was not "posh." I get the feeling some posters have the image of a snide upper-crust Anglican peering down his nose at the declasse RC's. That's not him - he can just sound that way in print;-)

Oh yes! Not posh at all! He's working class Northern English and very proud of it!

You wouldn't get a snide upper-crust Anglican using a word like "Papist"! Derbyshire is quite proud of not being a snide upper-cruster, as one can tell by the number of times he mentions the absolute poverty of his youth. ("When I was a kid we had to dance for half-pennies in the streets from passing Marines to buy our daily bread!")

But then the English class issues are so much more complicated than their relationship to Catholicism.

On the latter, one might be interested in the remarks of J.R.R. Tolkien, who came of a quite respectable middle class family and was a ward of the Birmingham Oratory.

"But hatred of our church is after all the real only final foundation of the C of E - so deep laid that it remains even when all the superstructure seems removed (C.S.L. for instance reveres the Blessed Sacrament, and admires nuns!) Yet if a Lutheran is put in jail he is up in arms, but if Catholic priests are slaughtered - he disbelieves it (and I daresay really thinks they asked for it.)

Yes, English Catholicism can seem very posh at points, a la Brideshead Revisited. The Dukes of Norfolk are still doing their bit to give it *that*. A friend of mine lives in Brighton, right by Arundel Castle and Cathedral, which was first dedicated to St. Philip Neri when it was built in the 19th century and some years ago was rededicated to the English martyr St. Philip Howard.

"Oh, well, I see they finally had a Howard available to dedicate the place to!" I said. (The Howards being one of England's old powerful aristocratic families and the ancestors of the Dukes of Norfolk, who built Arundel Cathedral.)

But this is not the standard state of Catholicism in England, and it must be noted that if you're Catholic, no matter how... posh, you're rather quaint, aren't you? Not really to be taken seriously, even if there aren't the prejudices against the Irish to be taken into the question.

There's a little bit of that kicking around in the US, and we complain about it all the time, but you haven't been patronized until you've been patronized by an English atheist with a CofE upbringing.

That said, the old CofE and the culture that went with it had a lot of good points. I'm actually extremely fascinated and at turns delighted and appalled with Old Britannia (just appalled at Tony Blair's tawdry brave new country), as I think anyone who loves their English literature would be. People like Derbyshire are a part of a new barbarism that would have horrified the old upper-crust snobs of the past.

Marco the Triumphalisatic Papist

Papist! And proud of it.

Lynn Gazis-Sax

and...btw...I always thought that Anglicans virulently reject placing themselves in the "Protestant" category...but I suppose there are different levels of that, as well

A whole lot of variation on that. Some Anglicans would very firmly put themselves in the "Protestant" category, while others would not. Remember, Anglicanism ranges from Anglo-Catholic to evangelical to, well, I'm not sure what label I ought to use for Bishop Spong. A common formulation is that Anglicanism is both Protestant and Catholic.

Of course, Derbyshire isn't so much evangelican as pretty much a cultural Anglican. I suppose it's the anti-Irish sentiment that makes him identify himself as a "Prod."

James Kabala

I doubt very much that 20% of American Revolutionary veterans were Catholic. There were only a few thousand Catholics in the thirteen colonies, mainly in Maryland with some in Pennsylvania and a tiny number elsewhere, and that includes women, children, the elderly, etc. The total population was about 3 million, and about 280,000 men served in Continental army, navy, or marines. About Of course, you could include our French allies, but that strikes me as sort of cheating.
I have always enjoyed Derb's writing, but lately have come to the conclusion that he is not a conservative, but a libertarian who disguises himself as a conservative by disliking gays.


A lot of people appear to be rather fond of the "Papist" trucker hats from the RatzingerFanClub -- Maybe it's a Southern thing.



Anti-Catholicism in Britain. Hmm. I'm not sure that (practising) Catholics are any more scorned here than other devout people - which is to say, quite a lot; religion (except the scarier edges of Islam) is increasingly de facto disallowed from any claims to seriousness here. Not many people bother really to hate Catholicism. Of course there are patches (especially here in Scotland) where sectarian feeling is still deeply corrosive, whether it appears as discrimination, as violence or as general unease (like some of my older relatives: the Catholics are all very well, but you don't want your own offspring crossing the Tiber). It's no longer connected with the notion that Catholics are traitors, though; more general resentment of the Irish, I think, though no longer expressed as such. Guy Fawkes night is only explicitly anti-papist in about one village in Suffolk. (This may or may not be good - I fear it's mostly because we don't teach the kiddies enough history, so they have no grasp of the seventeenth century and why they should care about it.)

As Septimus said, the use of 'Roman' is something we should be more worried about; my (Protestant) family seem to think I think the ROMAN Catholic Church is THE Church, and it indicates a widespread misunderstanding of the Church's claims.

Why is 'Jewess' offensive? I mean, I feel it is; but I can't actually think why - 'Jew' obviously isn't, so why does specifying gender somehow seem wrong? Is it implicitly diminutive (in a bad way)?


In the mid-eighties my friend and I were in London visiting her family friends. The woman we stayed with look with great disgust at me when she declared, "Oh, your R.C.?" I had never encountered religious bigotry before. As a young college woman I felt great pity for the woman. My grandparents' were discrimnated here in New England in the early 1920's and '30's when the W.A.S.P. (is WASP offensive???) factory owners posted signs saying Irish Need Not Apply.

Victor Morton

Boeciana ... wha's like us:

It's no longer connected with the notion that Catholics are traitors, though; more general resentment of the Irish, I think, though no longer expressed as such.

I'm curious what you mean by this. Genuinely so ... there's several ways to take it, of varying levels of persuasiveness.

The notion that Catholicism is somehow foreign was certainly still common when I was a boy (born in Glasgow 1966, emigrated 1978). e.g. "the Church of Rome" was a widespread locution even among educated people not looking to take a shot. But since the second half of the 20th century, the Catholic population of Scotland has been almost entirely native born. (And obviously the Rangers-Celtic rivalry has not diminished or really changed its character since WW1.)

It obviously goes without saying that the Irish-descent is still known. But the years of my boyhood were also the height of the Troubles. And Scottish Catholics -- though our behavior toward the IRA was disgraceful in terms of fund-raising, gun-running, hideouts and Celtic cheers -- never spoiled for civil war in our own country. And "Pat, Mick and The Irishman jokes" were common among us papists.

On another point, I had no idea growing up that Guy Fawkes Night was particularly anti-Catholic, even though I *did* know the general background of the Gunpowder Plot. As you say, in most of the country, the particulars surrounding the Nov. 5 celebration had lost their anti-popery traits long ago.



I know I'm coming into this discussion late, but anyone ever hear the term "bead puller"? It's evidently another anti-Catholic slur, (referring to the Rosary, of course).

So if Proddy is bad, what about Fundy? Bible thumper? Holy roller?

In Jesu et Maria,
Rosemarie, the romish mackerel snapping, bead-pulling papist.

(Actually, I hate mackerel. Cod snapping, pollock snapping, sardine snapping, even salmon snapping... not mackerel snapping!)


I don't mean that the West Lothian Protestants are still complaining about Irish navvies taking their jobs, or whatever. Rather, I suspect that the remaining sectarianism is probably the legacy of more definite anti-Irishness. Since we don't really have recusant families in Scotland, and there were very few Catholics executed in the Reformation period (compared to England), feelings now are pretty much all nineteenth-century legacies, I think; i.e. post-toleration. Hence I imagine they're rooted in contempt for the Catholic Irish, rather than hatred of the traitor Papist. But that's not an argument foudned on evidence, I'm afraid! Not my period, as historians say...(Incidentally, did the Italian and Polish communities in Glasgow get treated the same? I have no idea...) Right, I'm beginning to sound less and less convincing to myself...

Despite the fact that most Scottish Catholics are native born, Scottish Catholicism is still awfully Irish - at least, this is my impression as an East-coast convert to whom it's a bit alien. Indeed, though, the Rangers-Celtic thing has lost all touch with anything, and rumbles on regardless.

Lynn Gazis-Sax

As Septimus said, the use of 'Roman' is something we should be more worried about

I've sometimes done the "ROMAN Catholic" emphasis thing, not as a way of referring to either the Church or Catholics in general, but if I'm trying to settle confusion over whether a particular person is ANGLO-Catholic or ROMAN Catholic (someone's assuming one, and I happen to know it's the other). I hope people don't hear it as offensive in that context.


"I have always enjoyed Derb's writing, but lately have come to the conclusion that he is not a conservative, but a libertarian who disguises himself as a conservative by disliking gays."

Derb doesn't hate gays. As far as I can tell, he doesn't even believe that homosexuality (or "buggery," as he would call it) is sinful. He would, however, argue that it is "disordered" (as the CDF might put it) and that straights shouldn't be forced to treat it as normal, and that's what causes the Andrew Sullivan crowd to denounce him as a bigot.


I used to be offended about "papist" and "Roman" but these terms have become less derogatory, and I don't mind any more. But I don't like Derb - he indeed writes well but his old-fashioned working-class type of bigotry is under a very thin skin, and doesn't take much to emerge. As for Guy Fawkes: some time ago I regretfully came to the conclusion that the anti-Catholicism in the celebration was a reasonable response to a bad deed done by a Catholic in the name of Catholicism. Doesn't mean the anti-Cath stuff should still go on, and in these days when the CofE can begin to acknowledge the Tyburn martyrs, etc, the Guy stuff should fade away. But it's hard to deny that there was a real threat causing real fear and it was done by a Catholic.

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